Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Billboard

An interesting snippet from this article about Joan Didion:
Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, also a writer, had drilled into her the need for a “billboard” — a short passage, early in your story, that tells readers what it will be about.

I often say something like this to people in workshops: "tell the reader what to expect from this story - is someone going to die? are they going to break up? where's all this headed?" Maybe it's anti-intuitive to show your hand in this way, but I think it helps generate narrative tension. It's like Hitchcok showing us the ticking bomb under the table - we know there's a bomb there, but when's it going to go off and who's gonna be caught in the explosion? Er, just to use a really extreme example...

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